It's a rare Friday night Sevy doesn't work, so last night with the evening ahead of us we decided to spend quality time together - furniture shopping. We had intended to go see Slumdog Millionaire afterwards, but on the way home (with a large armchair tucked in the back seat) Sevy said "Hey, I think tonight is Maximo's mock dinner, want to go by and check it out?". For those unfamiliar with the term, mock dinners are practice dinners held before a restaurant opens, an invitation-only trial run for the staff and management. We had no such invitation, so we crashed the bar to say "Hi" and "Good Luck" to friends Mark Maguire and Amador Mora.
North of LBJ, catty-corner to the Galleria, several nice restaurants have opened in the area over the last few years. The previous tenant in the Maximo space, BLT Steakhouse didn't last long. I don't think BLT's failure could be put squarely on a problem location (I read their offering prospectus when they were shopping investors, hmmm). Mark agreed it's a low profile, tucked-away location, but in a beautiful building and in a neighborhood that has been enjoying a renaissance for the last several years. Many of our towns nicest restaurants (ahem!) were in former restaurant spaces (Sevy's used to be Loma Luna, The Mercury used to be a Spasso Pizza, Abacus was a closed-down-quickly billiards place), and I believe this team with their experience can make this a destination place.
I stuck to the bar, making friends with the bartendress and enjoying a house specialty drink (I would very much recommend), the Black & Blue. A cross between a mojito and a margarita with blueberries and blackberries crushed with mint leaves. Yum - I had a second one while Sevy toured the kitchen (chefs do that). The bar was immense, tall and wide it easily seats a couple dozen people on stools. The large room had rough wood ceilings, it reminded me of a hotel bar from the 1800's. There was an antique circular velvet settee in the middle of the room that softened the masculinity of the room. Of course I forgot my camera at home.
Mid-way through my second Black & Blue, I decided to poke my head through the velvet draped entry to the dining room. It was a completely opposite environment from the bar; drenched in white paint, lots of windows, very sophisticated and full of people, it was also full of energy. Things appeared to be going smoothly, the family we chatted with while valet retrieved our car said it was a wonderful dinner with no problems. Of course they could have been Mark's family for all I know, usually family sits in as the testers for the experimental meal.
Tonight they are open for a charity event, and their actual hard opening is sometime next week, I didn't catch the date. We'll definitely be returning, I told Mark I was going to hold a Maximo Mommy Monday Happy Hour with the Hillcrest moms soon.